Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits
Aoi has almost given up trying to make a place for herself at Tenjin-ya when an elderly tengu lands in her garden. He turns out to be a very high-ranking man, and not only that, but a friend of her late grandfather's. He immediately takes Odanna to task for his treatment of Aoi, with the end result that things may not be as dire as they seem for her…at least, until a trip to town with Odanna brings some unexpected results.
It feels very clear that Odanna (also known as Kijin) is playing a long game with Aoi. Whether he initially planned it that way or not is much more up in the air, because it seems as if he honestly didn't realize that the young woman wouldn't be thrilled to just suddenly find herself betrothed to an oni in another realm. That may be simply because he's used to be the most highly sought-after bachelor of Tenjin-ya (and possibly most of Kakuriyo); it certainly wouldn't be the only link between him and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, giving the theory some credibility. On the other hand, he also may not have realized that Shiro kept most knowledge of Kakuriyo from his granddaughter – certainly most of the ayakashi seem to have kept Shiro's memory alive and even now continue to talk about him, so it would make sense if they assumed that he'd do the same with his own family. Given that Odanna refers to Akatsuki and Suzuran as “like his grandchildren” and that most ayakashi are genuinely shocked that enough time has passed that Shiro would have died of old age, it's evident that enough of a disconnect exists to make this possible, if not probable.
Whatever the reason, Odanna's treatment of Aoi thus far has been markedly less than charming. Initially that may well have been the result of a fit of pique (“How dare she not want to marry me?!”), but now it seems to have morphed into something like a terrible, or at least bizarre, courtship ritual: if he treats Aoi poorly enough, she'll come to her senses and take him up on his generous offer of betrothal. Not the most mature option, to be sure, but emotions don't always provoke the most rational response to a situation. And Odanna's emotions do appear to be engaged, even if he's not thinking about how things will appear to outsiders.
That one of those outsiders is Lord Matsuba, the former Lord of the Tengu, is Odanna's bad luck. After the tengu create a ruckus at Tenjin-ya, as we saw in the previous volume, the inn takes them out on one of their sky ships. Lord Matsuba gets drunk and falls overboard, landing at Aoi's little cottage, where she takes him in and feeds him. Matsuba is immediately enchanted by the kind human girl and her food, and when he learns that she's the granddaughter of his old friend Shiro, he's thrilled. Less to his liking is her relation of how Odanna's been treating her, and Lord Matsuba quickly takes her under his protection. Or rather, he tries to – when he berates Odanna, Ginji jumps in with the news that Aoi is actually the oni's affianced bride, which hardly endears him to the tengu.
This marks a turning point once again for Odanna, although not Aoi. While he's chronologically much older than she is, Odanna's been acting much less maturely, and Lord Matsuba's confrontation forces him to acknowledge that. That he does then try to change his tune is to his credit, although it's hard to know what he would have done had Aoi taken Matsuba up on his offer to bring her into his family. Obviously, it's going to take more than just starting to treat Aoi more kindly if he truly does want to win her over. It does seem possible that he does; when Aoi learns that if she sells the fan Lord Matsuba gave her she can easily pay off “her” debt and be free, Odanna quickly stops her. Possibly this is just because he realizes she doesn't understand how powerful the fan is, but we could also read it as not wanting her to be done with him so quickly – after all, if the debt is paid, she's free, and then he doesn't get to work on wooing her. That does seem to be what he's doing, as well – their little jaunt into town has the definite feel of a date, and the others at Tenjin-ya seem to agree, with mixed results.
As for Aoi, she's a hard woman to keep down. While some of what she does in this volume is very much in line with the basics of a “good” manga girl (she takes care of Oryo when she's sick despite the snow woman's attempts to hurt her), she's also still feisty enough to stand up to Odanna, Akatsuki, and anyone else who tries to pick a fight with her. Her best relationship is with Ginji, in part because he's consistently kind to her, but also because his enthusiasm seems to make her feel more comfortable than she does with most of the other ayakashi. What's interesting about this volume, however, is that while she's establishing herself as a no-nonsense heroine and making a place for herself at Tenjin-ya, the underlying emotional motivations are all coming from Odanna, making Aoi's role “action” and his “emotion.” It's an interesting gender reversal of roles, and it helps to confirm that Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits is a story that continues to be worth keeping up with.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Odanna provides food for thought, Aoi continues to stand up for herself, some nice world-building
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